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Joe Judge, New York Giants (December 12, 2021)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

LEONARD WILLIAMS COULD MISS THE REST OF THE SEASON…
The NFL Network it reporting that the right elbow injury suffered by DE Leonard Williams on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers could be “significant.” Williams is undergoing more tests but he could miss the final four games of the season.

DECEMBER 13, 2021 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 37-21 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers:

Q: You had I think 28 plays in the first half, nine rushes. That key sequence before the half when you started on the plus-41, you had three throws and you don’t move the ball. Why did you get away from the rush in the first half against a team that was really struggling to defend it?

A: We came back to the run. I thought they ran the ball pretty effectively in the second half and that was something that helped us. Specifically on that end-of-half situation, we thought we had an opportunity with the screen pass getting out to the flat. There was an opportunity to make a big play right there. We’ve got to go ahead and execute, make sure we get the blocks started and get (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) started in space. Third down play, there were some opportunities there for a catch-and-run. We knew the kind of defense they were going to be playing. We could have done a sub-run, kind of let them go ahead and run it. At the same time, we wanted to go ahead and push and take advantage of some opportunities to strike down the field, but also open up the underneath, as well. Do we go back and look at it in terms of do we run the ball? We consider that. A lot of times you’ve got to consider the short catch-and-run type of passes as an extension of your running game, as well. Still an opportunity to get the ball in the hands of your running backs in space, keep them at bay a little bit in terms of what they expect at certain times. But we were in a position there where the way we had to go ahead and finish that is, first off, we can’t go backwards and have negative yards. We’ve got to make sure we end that with at least three points, but really you want touchdowns in that situation. Then, when we have the opportunity to execute the punt when we stalled out on offense – which is something we’ve got to do better – we have to go ahead and put them down there on as long a field as possible. There are some things we left, some meat on the bone there. In terms of going specifically away from the run, we’ve talked about that in terms of running the ball. The screen and the short catch-and-runs are really an extension of the run game in terms of how we view it. Thought we had some opportunities there, just got to capitalize on them.

Q: You talked last night about a foundation being poured, but you said that some of those things we can’t really see externally. Can you expand a little bit on the kinds of things that you see that you feel good about?

A: Yeah, absolutely. First off, it always starts with the players, right? What I see on the field right now is we have a lot of young, developing players, a lot of guys that are going to end up being impact players for us and build a strong foundation on the field. There are a number of guys who are rookies, who are in their second or maybe even third year of their contracts that are really starting to turn the corner and show a lot of gains in terms of performance on the field as players, guys at key positions that you can see as we watch these guys in terms of how they practice and how they’re starting to carry it over. The reality is we put a lot of young players on the field and there are some learning curves and there are some things we have to help eliminate and can’t have one-offs with mistakes. But you can see the right demeanor of play, you can see the right style of play of what we want.

On top of being good players, we’re getting the right kind of people in the building. We’re getting team-first people. We’re getting guys who are putting the team first on decisions they make. We’re also getting guys that are fighting adversity. We’re getting guys who come to work every week and no matter what happened the week before, they put in a solid week to prepare, put the team first and do everything they can to have a chance to have success. I see guys who are going ahead and they’re being good leaders within the building, they’re helping their teammates along the way. They’re setting good examples for the young players. I’m pleased with how our veteran players are taking guys under their wing and trying to help guys develop. There are leaders within the locker room. I’m pleased with the way our guys handle themselves publicly in terms of representing the organization. I’m pleased with the fight they show on the field. There are a lot of intangible things that you try to build when you start a program. Some of the things we look at, which are some of the hardest things to do when you take over a program, can’t be seen.

One of the things I found out being in a different place for the first time in a while – and really (Assistant Head Coach) Pat Graham and (Quarterbacks Coach) Jerry Schuplinski after coming from that experience their first year in Miami with Flo (Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores) down there, one thing they kept talking to me over and over about was that you’re not going to understand or believe how tough it is to teach people how to practice. Really, good teams practice the right way, and I can think of examples last year and then this year with a lot of new players and the way some of the things were learned through training camp, but getting guys on the right page of how to come out and practice and prepare. That goes through how you meet throughout the day, how you prepare your body, but then when you go on the field, how to practice with the right tempo, the right intensity, the right execution and detail. That’s something that took some time, a lot longer than I thought. It’s not as simple as saying this is how this drill goes and what to do. It’s how to practice as a whole. You see the right makings of how guys go out there and prepare for practice, and that’s really a key element in having success, obviously about how you prepare. There’s a lot of things within the building in terms of how guys are not only taking care of their bodies but doing the right things and changing the nutrition program inside. It helps when these younger players really develop and put on the size and the strength that they have to to really develop their bodies.

We talk about the intangible things, about how the guys put the team first and treat the people in the building and make sure that they’re doing everything the right way to represent the organization and put the team first. There are a lot of things internally I see growth in on a daily basis. There are a lot of things that show up in how we practice, a lot of things I see with developing players. There are a lot of traits and things that when you look at depth charts that you’re secured with contracts going into the future, and you look and say, ‘Are these pieces we can build with? Are these guys at these positions we think can make an impact?’ When the answer is yes at a key number of spots, then that’s a positive note. You have to get these young players developing, you have to make sure the older players continue to make an impact, you have to make sure you put each of your players in positions to have success, but getting the right kind of guys in the building – that’s physically as players to fit your system, that’s the right kind of character and culture that you have to have going forward – those are key things that you have to do.

Then, making sure everyone’s on the same page in terms of how you practice, prepare and conduct yourself throughout the course of a year, specifically the course of a week, to get ready. Those are key things. Those are key elements that you have to get done and get accomplished. It’s not simple. It’s not fantasy football, you don’t come on in, you don’t select a couple players in the draft and sign someone in free agency and say, ‘Every problem is solved.’ You’ve got to come in and put all the pieces in place over time. There are a lot of examples of teams that have come in and had quick success and then filtered out quickly, but there are better examples of teams that have come in and collectively gone together and put the team together the right away over the course of a few seasons and had sustained success over time.

I’m very pleased with the way we’ve been able to push and get guys going throughout the culture, pleased in the way our locker room conducts itself and handles itself. I’m very pleased with the leadership that’s being built, I’m very pleased with the toughness our guys have shown mentally and physically to fight through injuries or adversity to go out there and put the team first. There are a lot of things I see on a daily basis. I can tell every morning when I start my squad meeting where the team is at. I can tell by looking at eyes. I look at eyes all the times. I tell the players I’m always looking at eyes because I can see everything in your eyes and you can’t hide it. I can see when their eyes are intent and engaged and they’re working on getting better as a team and they’re working on playing for the man next to them. I can see that. I can see when a guy is disengaged, too. When I see that, I’ve got to grab a guy, pull him to the side and figure out what makes him tick, and get him back involved with the team and make sure this guy is on the same page as everyone else.

But I can see the eyes in our guys. I can see the eyes before a game. I can see the eyes yesterday at halftime knowing they’re going to go out there and they’re going to continue to fight and we’re going to claw our way back in the game. And I can see the eyes after the game that we didn’t play well enough to win, but we’re going to show up as a team on Wednesday and we’re going to go to work. That’s what we’re always going to do. There are a lot of things that aren’t seen on the outside.

Ultimately, I say it all the time, it’s a production business. We understand that. We understand that, but before you start getting all the results that everyone can see, you’ve got to get all the things behind the scenes right and you’ve got to get it going in the right direction. When you talk about the foundation, it’s the most important part. Unless you have a strong foundation with your locker room, with your culture, with the way you’re developing players, you don’t have any chance to sustain anything on the field – not for any meaningful duration of time. I’ve said this from the beginning, I’m not interested in coming and having some kind of quick flash, I’m not interested in shortcuts, I’m not interested in quick fixes. I want to do this the right way and when I took this job, I made it very, very clear that I was only going to do this if we were all committed to doing this the right way and that’s been something that’s been very clear from ownership on down.

I’m very happy with the support the ownership gives. Both families are tremendous people to work for and I know that this team is very, very important to them. To be honest with you, it’s their family business and football’s my family business, too. I take a lot of pride in what we do and the product is important to me not only in just the wins and losses, which ultimately in this business is the most important part, but it’s also how you do it and how you prepare and how you conduct yourself throughout the course of the week, how your team represents you on and off the field and how the players reflect what you’re trying to represent within that community and the city you represent. So, I hope that answers some of it.

Q: I’ve got a couple for you. Yesterday in your answer on the foundation and in that five-minute one right there, you sound like a guy who’s sure he’s going to be back next year. Have you had that conversation? Have they told you you’re definitely the coach next year?

A: Let me make this really perfectly clear, my or anybody else’s hypothetical future, I’m never going to comment (on). Does everybody understand that? Point blank. So, you can ask me about (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat Graham, not going to answer you. You can ask me about (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome Henderson, not going to answer you. You can ask me about a number of coaches, I’m not going to answer. I’m not going to answer about myself either. I’m not going to speak on hypotheticals. I’m interested in building this team and moving forward. Our focus after today will shift to the Cowboys.

Q: (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones), what’s the update after his medical checkup today?

A: So, actually as we speak, he’s back in Jersey and in the scanner and then we’ll wait to see doctors. I don’t have any updates for you right now. I probably won’t have the information until I get off the flight by the time he sees the doctors. (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie Barnes is with him. They also took some of the images with them from (Defensive Lineman) Leo’s (Williams) MRI last night and our doctors back in Jersey will look at those and give us the information after they see him.

Q: I wanted to ask big-picture, kind of free agency. You guys hit the jackpot last year with (Cornerback James) Bradberry, (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan) and (Linebacker Blake) Martinez. You hit the jackpot. They all came in and they all had great years. It hasn’t worked out quite as well for (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay), (Cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson), (Tight End) Kyle Rudolph. What do you see from those guys in terms of free agency and do you agree with the football adage that relying on free agency is risky and it’s a much better foundational strategy to draft and develop?

A: Let me be clear through this, in terms of specifically to Kenny and Adoree’ and Kyle as well, I’m very pleased on all three of those guys in terms of how they’re pushing forward and working to make contributions. Now, all three have dealt with health issues this year that have set them back a good bit. I’ve seen Adoree’ progress in our program and make a lot of plays for us and play aggressive. Obviously, he’s been set back with some injuries. Kenny, the same thing. He’s been removed at certain points due to injury. There’s been a heightened focus of making sure that he’s been a focal point of the offense in recent weeks. I think yesterday they did a good job of doing some things to put extra focus on Kenny defensively and when that happens, we’ve got to make sure we get the ball and distribute it around the field and let other guys make some plays. In terms of those three guys, I think it’s important when you bring in free agents that, again, I’ve said this, you’re not playing fantasy football. You’re bringing in the right kind of guys to your building. With all three of those guys, they are guys that I had sit down meetings with before they came in because I wanted to make sure character-wise they fit what we were looking for. I can watch the tape, I understand they’re all accomplished players, but character-wise they have to fit what we’re looking for. With all three guys, these are guys that come to work every day, they work hard for their teammates, they put the team first. But you’ve got to make sure they fit what you’re doing and that’s not always the case with every free agent in the National Football League because guys come out of the league from different teams. Their experiences and their exposure to what is the culture or what is acceptable or however you want to phrase it is different in different places. You have to make sure you’re getting someone who has the same values as what you’re instilling in the players you draft and develop. Ultimately, to me, you build a team through the draft. That’s the way to truly build and sustain a program. However, in free agency you have to be able to add players at need positions who can come in and help progress the program, but they’ve got to fit what you’re looking for culture and character-wise on top of just schematically and football ability.

Q: Obviously, you put an emphasis on trying to get the ball to Kenny more in recent weeks. Why do you think it’s not working?

A: I think he’s seen the ball in some key situations the previous weeks as far as being able to make an impact. He has. I think we’ve done a decent job schematically of distributing the ball to a number of different targets. The focus has really been to keep all of our guys involved and to make sure we put them in situations where we create space for them and kind of catch-and-runs. You see whether that’s Saquon on a number of positions, Shep (Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard) yesterday, (Tight End) Evan (Engram), pushing the ball down the field to him, Kenny in his roles. Obviously, we’ve got to find different ways to make sure we keep those guys involved, but as you watch the tape as I did several times since yesterday’s game was over, they did some things to guard Kenny a little bit, but he found his way to get open, too. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to make a lot of contested catches and challenged catches, and we’ve got to make sure we keep feeding him the ball.

Q: Are you any more or less optimistic on Daniel? Has anything actually changed heading into this week compared to the previous weeks?

A: I’d say in terms of Daniel, obviously we’re still waiting on the information. I don’t really have anything new for you at this moment. We have to wait for him to be cleared for contact. I wouldn’t say – I have nothing negative, nothing less optimistic about it, if that makes sense? I have no information to tell me that anything’s going in a different direction. We’re waiting eagerly like you guys are to hear what the doctors say, and we’ll see where it is for this week.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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